Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

What Do CEOs DO All Day?

with 3 comments

If you were wondering what your CEO was doing all day, you need wonder no longer.

A story in today’s Wall Street Journal cites a research study conducted by the London School of Economics and Harvard Business School entitled the “Executive Time Use Project” reveals that CEOs spend about a third of their work time in meetings.

Funny, I would have thought a third of their time was spent on airplanes!

In any case, as a study overview on the London School explains, “A CEO’s schedule is especially important to a firm’s success, which raises a few questions: What do they do all day?”

And, more importantly, can they be more efficient with their time?

Here’s a few other sound bytes from the study:

  • On average, some 85 percent of a CEO’s time was spent working with other people, with only 15 percent spent working alone.
  • The time CEOs spent with outsiders had no measurable impact on firm performance. But, time spent with other people inside the company was strongly correlated with positive increases in productivity.
  • In companies with stronger governance, CEOs spent more time with insiders and less time with outsiders, and at the same time were more productive.

So how else did they spend their time? In total, some 85 percent was spent working with other people through meetings, phone calls, and public appearances.

Of that precious time spent with others, 42 percent was spent with only “insiders,” 25 percent with insiders and outsiders together, and 16 percent with only outsiders.

The time spent with insiders, however, was strongly correlated with productivity increases. For every 1 percent gain in time spent with at least one insider, productivity advanced 1.23 percent.

Not so reassuring was the fact that the time CEOs spent with outsiders had no measureable correlation with firm performance.

Turbo’s Translation: Focus on meeting with your more senior troops, skip some of the speaking engagements, and be very discriminating about the biz dev meetings you take.

3 Responses

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  1. That’s funny, Todd. When I was a student, I managed to offend a well-known, entrepreneurial CEO with that question. I learned to lead with the explanation that I really didn’t understand the job, and it was a real question.

    The offended CEO’s answer? Something, something, “and occasionally run the company.”
    The second CEO’s answer? Meetings and handling exceptions.

    Nathan Gilliatt

    February 14, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    • Nathan, thanks for the comment. The research is pretty enlightening…definitely worth checking out. Meanwhile, I was checking your website out, and you and I should talk. We have some very common interests, not least of which is the social listening realm, an area I focus on. Feel free to drop me a line at turborpm@gmail.com with contact info and maybe we can set up a get acquainted call.


      February 14, 2012 at 4:06 pm

  2. There’s a good critique of the study at Lies, Damn Lies, and Survey Results – how CEOs do not spend their time.

    Link text: Lies, Damn Lies, and Survey Results – how CEOs do not spend their time
    URL: http://blogs.windward.net/davidt/2012/05/06/lies-damn-lies-and-survey-results/


    June 4, 2012 at 9:17 am

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